To build the PlayStation Classic, Sony turned to an open-source emulator

Take a moment to savor the irony.

Gordon Gottsegen CNET contributor
Gordon Gottsegen is a tech writer who has experience working at publications like Wired. He loves testing out new gadgets and complaining about them. He is the ghost of all failed Kickstarters.
Sean Buckley Social Media Producer
Gordon Gottsegen
2 min read

The PlayStation Classic releases Dec. 3.

John Kim / CNET

Sony's PlayStation Classic will offer gamers a library of twenty classic PS1 games when it comes out on Dec. 3, but you won't need to change discs to play them: just like with the NES and SNES Classic, this micro-console is actually a tiny computer running emulation software. Unlike Nintendo's throwback console, however, the PlayStation Classic's on-board emulator wasn't made in-house by Sony. It was made by fans.

The software that beats at the heart of the PlayStation Classic is actually an open-source emulator called PCSX ReArmed -- as noted in licensing info in the PlayStation Classic's menu, spotted by Kotaku. It's an ARM-based fork of the PCSX Reloaded project, and was originally designed to run on the Pandora handheld.

Believe it or not, the fact that the PlayStation Classic is using a fan-made emulator to run its games is actually pretty unique: Video game companies have butted heads with open-source emulators for a long time. Sony has even sued emulator makers in the past, going as far as buying companies to shut down emulation.

Sony isn't breaking any rules by using the open-source software -- it's well within its rights to -- but seeing the company use the work of emulation community to help build its new throwback console is a weird, ironic twist.

It's also a big win for the legitimacy of that community, as game historian Frank Cifaldi points out:

The PlayStation Classic will launch on December 3rd for $99.99. Interested? Check out our hands-on preview to see if it's worth your nostalgia.